"May the God of hope fill you with great joy and peace as you trust in him." Romans 15:13

Thursday, July 31, 2014


I am a thinker.  I like to plan ahead, to anticipate the future.  I like to be prepared.

These last few months I have found myself totally unprepared.  You see, though I have spent 18 years parenting, I was not prepared for my kids to grow up.

I had some ideas in my mind as to how their "launching" would go.

My hopes and the current reality do not match.

Sigh.  That has been hard.

Really, really hard.

I was whining about it to God this morning.  Grieving.  Grumbling.  Trying to reconcile the hurt going on in my heart.  Trying to understand my role now.  How does He want me to react?  When should I speak?  When should I be silent?  When should I help?  When should I step back and allow my kids to struggle?

We have had these same conversations a lot lately, God and I.

But last weekend was rough.  Worrisome.  Sad.  Frustrating.  Disappointing.  My child needed me, and yet this child wanted nothing to do with me.  I was devastated.  I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was angry.

This morning, I was licking my wounds.  Replaying the scene to God.  Asking Him what I should have done differently?  Sharing my hurt and asking Him how to respond. . .

when He shared His heart with me.

Softly, he whispered, "I understand.  I soooo understand.  Your child denied you.  It hurt so very badly.  I get it.  It happens to me all the time."

Those words have been replaying in my brain all day.  Even now, 11 hours later, they knock the wind out of me.

Because, they are so true.

I act exactly the same way as my children act.  I deny my Father all the time.  I ignore Him and do my own thing until I am in trouble.  Then I expect Him to drop everything and rescue me. Once things are back on track, I am ready to "handle" things on my own again expecting Him to happily hang out in the shadows just in case I need Him.

In regards to my children, I often have more questions than answers.

In regards to my God, I have deep repentance.  I have felt a small portion of the pain I inflict on Him all the time, and I am so very sorry.

While I can not say that I am thankful for the some of the things going on right now, I am thankful for the lesson God spoke into my heart today.

Father God, my heart breaks when I think of the pain that I cause You.  I deny You all the time.  I ignore your guidance.  I do it my way.  Often, I move forward without even thinking of Your plan.  I am SO very sorry.  Forgive me Lord.  Forgive me.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Little Road Trip

I took these four on a little road trip this week, just for fun!
 Adrianna, Mataya, Brenna, Joshua and I headed to the zoo in Minot.
(We missed Alexa!  She had other plans for the day.  I'm hoping to spend some time with her soon.)

The zoo in Minot is actually smaller than our zoo - but they have some animals that we do not have.  Plus, a road trip is always a fun adventure. 

Adrianna and Brenna are very close friends, along with being cousins.
I am thankful for their special relationship.
 The giraffe was by far their favorite animal.
 Brenna LOVED this big guy!  I think the $5 I gave her so she could feed him was the wisest "waste" of money ever!
 Joshua did not want to feed the giraffe.  He chose cotton candy for his treat.

Little Mataya was a trooper.  She did not fuss one bit all day long.  She spent most of her time while at the zoo in the ring sling, while Joshua hogged the empty stroller.  He sat in there while Adrianna pushed him around like he was the King of Africa or something.  I should have taken a photo, he looked so funny!

One of my goals during my "underemployment" is to get to know my nieces better.  I have come to realize that for many reasons, I do not really know them.  Sure I see them fairly often - but always in a crowd of people.  The kids go one direction, the men in another, and the ladies in another.  Even when it is a smaller group, my sweet nieces tend to talk to my kids - but not much to me.  And since some of my kids are older (not to mention noisier), I don't hear much from my nieces. I totally understand that.  It is completely normal.  Yet, I want to fight that a bit.  My nieces are precious girls and I want to know them for real - for myself, rather than just through their parents and grandparents.  

So, I am trying to grab some "alone" time with them when I can.  True, it is not one on one time - but it is the best I can do for now!  I am their only Aunt, and the time is coming that they may need a female adult friend who is not their mom.  I would dearly love to one day be someone they name a friend.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Day the Music Stopped

I have always loved music.

Growing up I drove my brother crazy because I was always singing - especially on road trips.

I did all the usual singing stuff - choir, voice lessons, worship teams.

But beyond performance, singing was just how I expressed my heart.  It bubbled from me.

I remember cooking dinner with a girlfriend one weekend during High School.  Her parents were out of town, and we were preparing dinner for our boyfriends.  It was to be a real meal - pasta, salad, and dessert.  While we were cooking and chatting and setting the table, I was singing some silly tune.  My girlfriend laughed at me.  She said it was the most wonderful thing that she had ever heard in her kitchen.  She honestly believed it was the first time anyone had ever been heard singing in her kitchen.  I was shocked!  I was also sad.  Hers was not the happiest of homes.  While money was plentiful, laughter was not.  I vowed to always live in a home filled with laughter and singing.

And I did for many, many years.

But one day. . . I don't even know which day. . . the music stopped.

I stopped singing.  I stopped humming.  I stopped listening to the radio.  My brain was so full, my body was so stressed, I could not handle ANY additional stimuli.  Silence - not laughter or music - was what I craved.

Looking back, I realize just how stressed I had become.  But at the time, I truly had no idea.  I was too busy getting stuff done, keeping bosses happy, driving my kids from place to place, cleaning the kitchen, folding socks, etc, ect, etc. . . to even notice.

During these last four months of rest and recovery, less stress and more silly, something crazy happened.  I began to sing again.  Like truly sing, not the forced singing to be polite during worship I had been doing for who knows how long, but REAL singing, the kind that bubbled from my soul.  When it happened it totally caught me off guard.  It felt familiar. . . and yet totally foreign.  It felt like coming home.  It felt like I found myself again, even though I had not realized I had been lost.

My lesson in all this is that I need to be paying attention to me.  I need to take care of all of me.  While I had been caring for my body with healthy food choices and exercise, I had not been caring for my heart.  I had been so busy making sure everyone else had all they needed that I forgot to take care of me.  What had started as one busy week and then one overloaded summer had morphed into a lifestyle of too much.  I had unknowingly lost myself one tiny commitment at a time.

Friends, I know there are seasons in which our own needs must be put on a shelf so that we can serve others to an extent beyond our comfort zone.  We were created to serve rather than to be served, and sometimes we are called to serve until it hurts A LOT.  Yet, we can also turn our servant-hearted nature into an idol of sorts.  We can do and do and do. . . all good things - to an extreme in which we lose ourselves.  That is not how God wants us to serve.  When we serve as He wills us "the yoke is easy and the burden is light."  When I am serving as He calls me to serve my heart is filled with singing.  There is joy rather than unrelenting pressure.

From time to time we must slow down enough to do a real heart check.  Am I OK?  How much am I sleeping?  When did I do something fun and relaxing?  When is the last time I laughed. . . really laughed?    When was the last time I had a face to face conversation with a friend?   When is the last time I listened to God - rather than just telling Him what to do during quick bursts of exhausted prayer? (And for me) Do I hum while folding laundry, sing while I vacuum?

I don't know what your signal is - but I have learned that in my life when the music stops so has my joy.  If I have no joy, I have lost myself.  If I have lost myself, I am most certainly NOT on the path that God wills.  On His path there is joy, true joy - not fleeting happiness, but joy and peace unlike anything this world has to offer.

Take a moment to do a heart check often.  Start saying no before "the music stops."  His path of joy and peace is so, so much better than the path of busyness we are so tempted to follow.

Saying no is scary.  Making big crazy lifestyle changes - like quitting one job - is scary.

BUT hearing His music once again is so, so, so, so wonderful.

I am still serving nearly every moment of every day.  And although once in a while, I feel overwhelmed, all in all my heart is joyful.  I feel like me again - the me I was created to be - and that is a gift my whole family is enjoying!

Friday, July 18, 2014

4 Months Old

If I could freeze time, I would do it now.  
Mataya Hope at this sweet, "squishable," content, and cuddly stage is pure bliss.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mataya's 3rd Month

Since I no longer have time to post photos as I take them, be prepared for photo overload!

In the last month, Mataya has gone from fragile to squishable!  I just love, love, love this squishable, smiley, and very content baby!
 Mataya was born with VERY plugged tear ducts.  Her poor little eyes watered and watered.  They were often caked with "goop" almost like when you have pink eye.  The corners of her eyes would get raw because the skin was always damp.  Krissy had a plugged duct as well, so we have experienced this in the past - but Mataya's eyes were much worse.  I was nearly convinced they would not clear up on their own.

Then one morning she woke up with clear eyes!  Just like that - both eyes cleared!

So thankful for the Lord's healing!
 Since all the big girls prefer mix-matched socks - Miss Mataya dresses the same way.

We call it "baby swag!"
 This shirt was a gift from Jamison's girlfriend and her mom.

It makes me smile every time she wears it.

More baby swag!
 This month Mataya started to giggle!

Oh, I love, love, love baby giggles!

The most sure-fire way to get her giggling is to kiss all over her right cheek, just like daddy is above.

She also as a very tickley tummy!
 She is SUCH a snuggler.  We all LOVE it!
 Joshua has most certainly NOT tired of her.
 Mataya loves to snuggle wrapped in a blanket - but since it has gotten warm out, we try substitute these tiny ones.  I've nicknamed them "night-nights."  In actuality they are burp cloths that Krissy sewed; however as Mataya never spits up, this purpose is much more appropriate.
 I think I mentioned her big brother is smitten?

 Joshua is usually the first of the kids to get up in the morning.  That is his favorite time to snuggle with Mataya.  Many mornings he allows me to snap a picture and send it to Krissy.  Since he HATES photos, these are treasures.

 Mataya, being very content, is not in a hurry to do anything!  Though she has rolled, she does not know how - nor does she really want to learn.  Laying flat on her back is OK with her!

She is starting to enjoy sitting upright though.  She thinks the Bumbo chair is fun for short periods of time.  It is fun to watch her try and use her hands in it.  They just do not work quite as well when she is sitting as when she is laying on her back!  Her very favorite toy to grab is this little pink teddy.  Even with toys, snugly is best!
 This is how we buy groceries for our family of 8!

2 carts and 1 stroller get the job done!
 Mataya has found her feet.  She LOVES to play with them!
 One challenge we have with Joshua is that he continues to think he and Brenna are the same age, and thus should have the same privileges.  We talk many times every day about different ages having different rules - and he is FINE with that when it comes to everyone BUT Brenna.  Sigh.  Because of this, we have not allowed Brenna to carry Mataya until this last week.  We were concerned that if she were allowed to carry her, Joshua would sneak and do the same.  Now that Mataya is able to better support her head we feel like if Joshua sneaks and tries to carry her, there is less of a chance he will hurt her.  So after waiting for nearly FOUR months - Brenna can FINALLY carry her baby sister around the house!

She is thrilled!

And for the record, she was so patient waiting.  She knows exactly how Joshua thinks.  She was willing to sacrifice to protect her baby sister.   I am so thankful AND so proud of her!
 One day last week Brenna and I were home alone.  I was cleaning the house.  Actually. . . first I was napping while she cleaned - yep, I am crazy spoiled like that with my Brenna girl.  She is my domestic.  She likes to cook and clean.  She often surprises me by taking care of a cooking or cleaning chore without me even asking.  Anyway, once I woke up - I took over the cleaning duties while she played with Mataya.  At one point I peaked in on the girls and found the scene above.  Brenna was singing to Mataya as she swung.  Mataya had her eyes locked on Brenna and was so totally content.  Sigh.  It was a mommy moment to treasure.
 Sierra continues to be the baby whisperer.

She has even taught me a new way that Mataya likes to snuggle!

This sister bond is so very sweet.
It melts my mommy heart.
 One morning Joshua insisted I let him rock Mataya to sleep.  I was skeptical - but he proved me wrong, he was able to snuggle her to sleep all by himself!

 More baby selfies by Joshua Gubs!

I love when I find these on my phone.
 This was taken today.

Mataya was watching intently while I put together her new toy.
 I can not believe I was the one who bought this contraption!

I think I have gone "grandma" with this one!  I have been joking that since Mataya is too little to go on rides at the State Fair we bought her a baby size one for our family room.

I hope she likes it as much as I do!
 For now, it is slightly overwhelming!  LOL!  I did not even consider showing her all the toys behind her!

 I might have posted these before, but since they melt my heart, twice is OK!
 I am trying to be a good sport about camping this summer. (Last year I had no interest after living in the campers the year before.)  I am still not passionate about it - but it is OK.  Since Mataya needs to stay out of the sun, I bought her this cute little tent.  She loves it!
 Where does she sleep in the camper?  Why in the closet of course!

Her rock and play fits perfectly in the closet right next to momma's side of the bed.

Generally speaking, I am the family photographer.  That means I am rarely in photos.  Which is fine. . . except that if you check out our family photo albums I seem non-existent.   With this baby, I have worked at being in a few photos!

 The ring sling continues to be a favorite!  She and I both love it.

Chest to chest, heart to heart is such a beautiful feeling.

Perhaps the best thing about this past month is that Mataya is finally growing appropriately.  Until the last month, she felt scrawny and fragile.  After a bit over a month on formula, she is squishable.  She has rolls on her thighs and a milk gut.  I am very thankful.  In all honesty, I am still grieving that breastfeeding was not successful with Mataya.  If I could be I would be, but since it did not work, I am so very thankful for formula.  I think often that if I lived in a Third World country she would continue to be scrawny.  It makes my heart hurt.

Before Mataya, the idea on NOT nursing for the first year NEVER occurred to me.  Breastfeeding my oldest four was easy.  I expected the same with Mataya.  Sitting on this side of nursing has made me very aware of the pressure non-nursing mom's feel.  I get a pit in my stomach almost every day when I see or read or hear "Breastfeeding is best. . ."  I feel almost ashamed shaking up a formula bottle when we are out and about.  It has been hard.  It is funny how a perspective can change.  I want to explain to everyone all the time that my pediatrician TRULY felt that nursing was not the best thing for my baby, when really it is none of anyone's business (plus no one cares outside of me).  The up side is that any struggle we go through makes us more compassionate and aware or how others may feel.  As my daughters start families (years from now!), I think this experience with Mataya will make me more open minded and careful when I react to all sorts of decisions they make with their babies.  (My life even cracks me up! I just had a baby - but I am saving all my baby stuff for our grandkids.  And I don't think it will even be totally outdated!)

Even on formula Mataya is tricky to feed.  She is just not a hungry baby.  As she has become more roly-poly, I am becoming less stressed about her lack of interest in food.  She still only has 3 ounces of formula at many feedings - but then there are the times that she insists on 6 ounces.  She is unpredictable to say the least!  BUT she is growing - thank you Jesus!  In the last month she has gone from being in the 2% for weight to the 40%! She weighs 13 pounds 7 ounces as of this week!  She is 25.25 inches long - which is 94%.  So at long last, she is measuring like a typical Dietrich baby. . . long and lean!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Perfect Summer Mornings

I have long been a morning person.

This did not come naturally.  As a teenager, I slept until noon every chance I got.  When Chad and I first married, I would beg him to sleep in on the weekends.  He rarely made it past nine.

As we began having children, I learned that if I got up very early, I could have a bit of time to myself - and thus my love of the early morning hours began.

Even when I was working full time, early mornings were important.  If I got up in time to have some quiet time before the Lord, everything went better.  It was HARD to peel myself out of bed at 5 am, but it was so very worth it.  Calm before the storm is a beautiful thing.  And mornings were certainly stormy!  Getting 7 people up, fed, and out the door by 7:15 am was pure craziness.

That is why this summer is so divine.

For the first time is many, many years mornings are not rushed.

Sure, I get up bright and early - but there is no rushing.

Only quiet.

My Bible and devotion book.


Then my computer and bookkeeping tasks.

Around 8:30 am I hear coos sing-songing from Mataya's room.  I walk toward her door, singing "Good Morning! How are you?"  And when I open the door, I am greeted with the biggest full body grin in the whole universe.

 After "talking" a bit with my little smiler, I turn on her mobile for her.  She watches it and kicks while I gather a diaper and clothes.
 She has discovered her feet, so she loves to lay naked in her crib and play with them.

She wakes up ready to talk and play - not a bit interested in food.

After she is changed and dressed, we move to the rocking chair and read a stack of books.

About 8:45 we say hello and good-bye to Jamison as he heads out the door for summer cross country practice.
Soon after, Joshua wakes up.

He comes down stairs ready to play and snuggle quietly.

Eventually, Mataya is ready for a bottle.

A brief morning nap soon follows.  Many days I put her in her stroller and Joshua and I go for a walk/jog/bike ride while she naps.  He jabbers while I puff and pant.

By the time we return home, Sierra has surfaced.  She enjoys a bit of "Taya time" while I shower.

And then it is time to get drag Brenna sleepy-head out of bed, make lunch, run some errands, drop off a kid or three. . . eventually the day becomes busy - but the mornings are precious.  They are, more often than not, calm and quiet.  Peaceful and unrushed.

I am cherishing every minute.

It will more than likely be the ONLY summer like this.  Next year I will be back in the office - but that only makes these short months that much more special.  Each day is precious.  Each day is a gift.

I am so very thankful.